Proponents argue for extension of paid parental leave


The government is urged to extend paid parental leave as a parliamentary committee prepares to examine the scheme.

Advocacy group The Parenthood is calling on the government to increase the amount of paid parental leave to 52 weeks, and to allow universal access to early childhood education.

The organization’s executive director, Georgie Dent, will appear Tuesday at a Senate committee hearing that examines issues surrounding work and care arrangements and how well current laws are working.

In its submission to the survey, the organization said inadequate paid parental leave and a lack of family-friendly work environments had made caring for many families a challenge.

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“Australia is lagging behind developed countries in providing best-practice, evidence-based policies that best support children, parents and families,” the submission reads.

“For children to thrive, they need support, and so do their parents and caregivers.”

It comes as the Greens announced plans to introduce a bill to Parliament that would entitle people to 26 weeks of paid parental leave.

Under the party’s proposal, parental leave would be paid at the same rate as the caregiver’s wages or salary up to $100,000 per year — meaning a maximum of $50,000 in leave paid over the full 26 weeks.

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Parents would also have “use or lose” incentives to encourage shared parenting.

Greens Senate leader Larissa Waters said fairer paid parental leave would benefit both the wider economy and parents.

“The more equitably paid parental leave will reduce the time women miss paychecks and give families more incentives and more support to share care responsibilities more fairly,” she said.

“Australia has one of the weakest parental leave schemes in the developed world, especially for fathers. There was unanimous support from the Jobs and Skills Summit participants to change that.”

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Thrive by Five director Jay Weatherill also supported plans to increase paid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks.

Mr Weatherill said a two week bonus should be provided if shared between parents.

And the scheme must be extended to 30 weeks of leave in 2025.

“Extending paid parental leave is a cornerstone of early learning reform, increasing women’s employment and supporting the well-being of children and families,” he said.

“We need to make sure Australia keeps pace with the global consensus on paid parental leave.”

The committee will report in February.


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